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Education and enforcement highlight provincial safety plan

EDMONTON, Alta. - The Alberta government will inject millions of dollars in funding to implement a made-in-Alberta traffic safety initiative, with the goal of reducing injuries and deaths in the provi...

EDMONTON, Alta. – The Alberta government will inject millions of dollars in funding to implement a made-in-Alberta traffic safety initiative, with the goal of reducing injuries and deaths in the province.

The Traffic Safety Plan, Saving Lives on Alberta’s Roads, outlines key initiatives to help prevent motor vehicle collisions, build safer roads, enforce traffic laws and better educate all Albertans about traffic safety.

“Traffic safety needs to be a concern for everyone, and driver attitude is an essential component of any traffic safety plan,” said Ty Lund, Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation. “All road users must realize that there are deadly consequences of not giving one’s full attention to the important task of driving.”

The announcement comes nearly 18 months after a group of stakeholders began discussing road safety issues in the province. About 30 to 40 different stakeholders joined the advisory board including the Alberta Motor Association, various levels of government, different enforcement agencies, doctors and the Alberta Motor Transport Association.

“We met for five or six months at the beginning of 2005,” noted Mayne Root, executive director with the AMTA.

During the next three years, approximately $65 million will be spent to administer Alberta’s Traffic Safety Plan. The largest portion, about $42 million, will go towards infrastructure enhancements including shoulder and centre rumble strips, improving intersections and enhanced pavement markings.

An additional 42 traffic sheriffs will be hired to monitor traffic safety on the province’s highways for about $4 million. Also earmarked in the new Traffic Safety Plan is an effort to work towards delivering a commercial training and driver certification program, as well as providing more rest stops in rural settings along provincial highway routes.

The all-encompassing plan is comprised of numerous initiatives in different focus areas including leadership and coordination, effective communications, community traffic safety, public education and awareness, research and evidence-based decisions, sustained enforcement, legislation based on best practices, and engineering and infrastructure improvements.

“They start off with an overall concept and the role of the people working in specific areas will be to develop more specific plans,” Root told Truck West. “We didn’t expect to come out with a document that said do this, this and this.”

Amidst all the focus areas, there are a number of points directed specifically at the trucking industry. As part of the leadership and coordination focus there will be a renewed approach to monitoring commercial carrier safety to identify carriers operating at a risk to the motoring public.

By improving communication and collaboration with enforcement partners, including joint enforcement and selected enforcement, the government will hope to improve commercial vehicle safety. Additionally, greater communication is expected to raise awareness of commercial vehicle safety issues by publicizing enforcement operations to increase the perceived risk of apprehension.

The Alberta Transportation Safety Board will undergo a review of roles and responsibilities to ensure it is being run as effective as possible.

There will also be a focus on developing the use of thermal imaging to more effectively screen and inspect commercial vehicles.

The Traffic Safety Plan was developed in response to the McDermid Report, “Saving Lives on Alberta’s Roads: Report and Recommendations for a Traffic Collision Fatality and Injury Reduction Strategy.” The McDermid Report was the result of an independent review of the government’s traffic safety programs aimed at finding the most effective ways to change driver habits and reduce collisions.

In his report, Don McDermid, former RCMP assistant commissioner, concluded that with an effective process and leadership from the province, the active involvement of stakeholders, adequate resources, a clear plan, and measurable targets, Alberta has an opportunity to be a leader in road safety.

“The issues they have identified and where the responsibilities need to fall is a big step forward,” said Root. “The province has taken a huge step forward in allocating resources to address enforcement issues and I can see some good things coming in the years to come.”

Many of the initiatives identified in the plan have already been initiated. On the commercial side, the province planned to work with the carrier industry to develop an enhanced partnership program for carriers who adhere to a higher degree of safety being granted greater latitude in meeting roadside inspections. That initiative has seen the reemergence of the Partners in Compliance program.

Additional initiatives already in place include legislation to help protect police officers, firefighters, ambulance workers, tow truck operators and construction workers on Alberta’s roads; the hiring of traffic sheriffs to work with the RCMP to patrol Highways 8, 11, 21, 22, 43 and 63; public awareness campaigns on impaired driving, speeding, intersections, school bus safety and back-to-school safety for children; a new automated driving knowledge testing system; and working with police to conduct Joint Forces CheckStops throughout the province.

Under the new plan, the Office of Traffic Safety will be established to enhance collaboration among all traffic safety partners. The office will be located within Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation and will coordinate the work of stakeholders and government in implementing the plan’s initiatives.

All strategies in the plan will be evaluated on an ongoing basis to assess and understand what works, what does not, and what needs to be changed to be successful. As part of the stakeholder group the AMTA will have an opportunity to continue its involvement.

“In regards to anything that is a part of our industry, we will have some responsibility for the reviewing and monitoring of programs,” explained Root.

As the Alberta Traffic Safety Plan moves forward, new laws will be considered and will be formulated based on research and best practice. The Traffic Safety Plan and the McDermid Report are can be viewed at by clicking on ‘publications.’

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